The way the trees empty themselves of leaves,
let drop their ponderous fruit,
the way the turtle abandons the sun-warmed log,
the way even the late-blooming aster
succumbs to the power of frost— Continue reading “What Else (Autumn Meditation) …”
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven …
— Ecclesiastes 3:1
The entire life of a good Christian is an exercise in holy desire. You do not see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when God comes you may see and be utterly satisfied. Suppose you are going to fill some holder or container, and you know you will be given a large amount. Continue reading “Desert Day 05: Why God Makes Us Wait …”
Hope begins in the dark: the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work. You don’t give up.
— Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird
Blessing the Desert
Ask me what
this blessing sounds like
and I will tell you
about the wind
that hollows everything
it finds. Continue reading “Desert Day 02: Blessing The Desert . ..”
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
— Isaiah 9.2
All grace comes precisely from nowhere—from silence and emptiness, if you prefer—which is what makes it grace. It is both you and yet so much greater than you at the same time, which is probably why believers chose both uprushing fountains (John 7:38) and downrushing doves (Matthew 3:16) as metaphors for this universal and grounding experience of spiritual encounter. Sometimes it is an uprush and sometimes it is a downrush, but it is always from a silence that is larger than you, surrounds you, and finally names the deeper truth of the full moment that is you. I call such a way of knowing the contemplative way of knowing, as did much of the older tradition. (The word “prayer” has been so consistently trivialized to refer to something you do, instead of something that is done to you, with you, in you, and as you.) Then, like Mary, you are ready to give birth. You are ready for Christmas … Continue reading “Advent Day 28: Silent Night, Holy Night (Christmas Eve) …”
There is within us a fundamental dis-ease, an unquenchable fire that renders us incapable, in this life, of ever coming to full peace. This desire lies at the centre of our lives, in the marrow of our bones, and in the deep recesses of the soul. We are not easeful human beings who occasionally get restless, serene persons who once in a while are obsessed by desire. The reverse is true. We are driven persons, forever obsessed, congenitally dis-eased, living lives, as Thoreau once suggested, of quiet desperation, only occasionally experiencing peace. Desire is the straw that stirs the drink …
Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with that desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality. Thus when Plato says that we are on fire because our souls come from beyond and that beyond is, through the longing and hope that its fire creates in us, trying to draw us back toward itself, he is laying out the broad outlines for a spirituality. Likewise for Augustine says: ‘You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.’ Spirituality is about what we do with our unrest. Continue reading “Advent Day 07: The Meaning Is In The Waiting …”
If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge. You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train yourself for that but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself, and don’t hate anything.
— Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet
You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
Want us to wait for the right time in which to discover
Who we are, where we must go,
Who will be with us, and what we must do.
So, thank you … for the waiting time. Continue reading “Advent Day 06: You Keep Us Waiting, Looking, Loving …”
The time came for Mary to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk 2:6f.). These words touch our hearts every time we hear them. This was the moment that the angel had foretold at Nazareth: “you will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:31). This was the moment that Israel had been awaiting for centuries, through many dark hours – the moment that all mankind was somehow awaiting, in terms as yet ill-defined: when God would take care of us, when he would step outside his concealment, when the world would be saved and God would renew all things. We can imagine the kind of interior preparation, the kind of love with which Mary approached that hour. The brief phrase: “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes” allows us to glimpse something of the holy joy and the silent zeal of that preparation. The swaddling clothes were ready, so that the child could be given a fitting welcome. Yet there is no room at the inn. In some way, mankind is awaiting God, waiting for him to draw near. But when the moment comes, there is no room for him. Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others – for his neighbour, for the poor, for God. And the richer men become, the more they fill up all the space by themselves. And the less room there is for others. Continue reading “Advent Day 01: Making Room for Christmas …”
Advent is a time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. It begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve, thus there is some variation in its length.
Advent is traditionally a season of expectation and hope. And yet, it often gets overlooked as an important part of Christmas in the flurry that leads up to it. Preparing for Christmas is just as important as celebrating it. Here are some simple and easy ways to recognizing Advent as a separate and cherished season as you prepare for Christmas.
Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
— Greg Anderson
Continue reading “Keeping Advent Simple …”
Don’t get rid of the pain until you’ve learned its lessons. When you hold the pain consciously and trust fully, you are in a very special liminal space. Continue reading “Transformative Suffering: The Growing Edge …”